The Philadelphia Phillies picked up on their 2009 playoff run right where the 2008 one ended. The Phillies knocked off the Colorado Rockies in a tidy 4 games, even though it was the only division series that did not conclude in a sweep.
In game 1 of the series Cliff Lee pitched a gem going all 9 innings with 6 hits, 1 earned run, 5 strike outs and 0 walks. The Phillies offense was silenced for the first 4 innings of the game by the Rockies, Ubaldo Jimenez. The Phillies then put up 2 runs in the 5th and 3 in the 6th enroute to a 5-1 Phillies victory.
Game 2 would prove to be rougher waters for the Phillies. Cole Hamels, with the impending birth of his first kid on his mind, was chased from to game after only 5 innings giving up 7 hits and 4 earned runs. The Phillies offense pitched a furious rally late in the game, but with a runner on first and second with 2 outs in the 9th inning Shane Victorino lined out to second to end the game. Huston Street registered the save for the Rockies, which would prove to not be a sign of things to come.
Game 3 shifted its scene to frigid Colorado where the first pitch temperature was 31 degrees. The Phillies struck first, scoring in the first inning on a home run by Chase Utley. However J.A. Happ was touched up for 2 runs in the bottom of the inning. Happ would only pitch 3 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 earned runs. The Phillies offense again was not going to go quietly, they put 3 runs in the 4th inning to give them the 4-3 lead, then retook the lead in the 6th inning only to see it relinquished in the 7th. Ryan Howard would eventually deliver the final blow on a sacrifice fly to left field that platted Jimmy Rollins. Unlike (or much like) Huston Street this would be a foreshadowing of things to come.
Game 4 featured a marginally warmer temperature and an even more dramatic ending. The Phillies sent out the man who started things to end them. Cliff Lee pitched a solid 7.1 innings with 5 hits and 1 earned run. Colorado was hoping to get a different result when sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound for his second start. This game would not come down to starting pitching, as both starters were credited with a no-decision. This game would be be settled by the teams bullpens. The score was 2-1 Phillies going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Colorado would break out to score 3 runs in the inning. With the Phillies trailing by 2 going in their final at bat the Rockies called on their closer, Street, again. With 2 out in the top of the 9th the Phillies had a runner on first (Chase Utley) and second (Shane Victorino) when Ryan Howard roped a double to deep right field scoring Utley and Victorino easily. The next batter was Jayson Werth who blooped a single into right that scored Howard. The Phillies called on Scott Eyre to close the game out, but left the game. To get the last out the Phillies looked to Brad "Lights-out"(knock-on-wood) Lidge to preserve the victory, and like he did all of 2008, he did just that.
As a side note to the series, and all the divisional series for that matter, the umpiring was horrendous.
The Phillies will now face a familiar foe in the National League Championship Series, the L.A. Dodgers. The Phillies knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs last year to advance to the World Series. Obviously the teams are not exactly the same as they were last year, however the cores are still the same and the Dodgers definitely have a bad taste in their mouths from last year. The regular season series belongs to the Dodgers, they hold the 4-3 advantage. This will be the 5th meeting between the Dodgers and the Phillies in the NLCS the series, currently tied at 2
Overall, starting pitching and hitting should out last bull pen. Phils in 6